In line with the erratic survival of records in Virginia, I know some things for sure, but others not at all. The first record of a Harrelson in Virginia is 1692, in a deed to Paul Harrelson for 225 acres on Crump Creek. The next record is Paul’s naturalization on March 23, 1703. He married Rebekka Burgess at some point and they had five children. He and Rebekka were members of St. Pauls Episcopal Church in Hanover County. His will was written in 1718 and proved in 1734, so it is unclear when he died.
The story is that Paul was a Danish sea captain, who gained land by headright for bringing settlers over. It is thought he arrived between 1670 and 1680, when immigrants began arriving from parts of Europe other than England and Holland. I assume he grew tobacco, as did practically everyone. He did leave his son Peter the land in Hanover on Crump Creek.
Peter was born around 1680. In 1715 he married Mary Chambers in St. Paul’s Church. They had at least 5 children, among them my ancestor John, born 1720 on the land in Hanover. John married Jane Stokes. They seemed to have moved to Halifax by 1747, where their son Alexander was born. John died in 1764.
One source says that Alexander and his brothers fought for the Revolution in North Carolina. Why would they have been there? Maybe in transit. Alexander died in Edgefield, South Carolina in 1813. He sold his land in Halifax in 1792-3. And, it is Alexander who married Mary Ann Malone in 1783 in Halifax. Maybe all the boys went to North Carolina to fight and he came home after the war and married.
It was Alexander’s daughter Jane who married Jesse Henderson In Edgefield, South Carolina in 1836. Their daughter, Mary Anne Henderson, was my great-great-grandmother. This brings us up almost to the present and definitely out of Virginia.
Just a brief note on the Hendersons to close then. William Henderson was the first to arrive in 1665 from Scotland. It may be that he was Presbyterian and it was more comfortable to leave Scotland under the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. In any event, he came as a merchant of the firm Henderson and Forster. He settled on the Pamunky River not far upstream from the Claiborne property.
His grandson Richard was a Quaker. He may have converted because of his wife, Elizabeth Branson, who came from a Quaker family. They settled first in Louisa County and were members of the Camp Creek Quaker Meeting there. At some point they moved to Edgefield County, South Carolina.
Edgefield was a popular destination around 1760. The Great Wagon Road had just been extended that far south and the Cherokees had been forcibly convinced to move further west. This story of pushing the frontier ever onward has become almost routine by this time, driven by the combination of greed for new cheap fertile land and the spirit of adventure. It does seem that any time a new road opened my ancestors hitched up the team.
This move demonstrates how far the colonies had developed en the eve of the Revolution. The Carolinas had received a royal charter in 1663 and settlers started filtering down from Virginia. Georgia was chartered in 1732 to James Oglethorpe, who founded it as a non-slave state, which only lasted a decade or so before the pressure of plantation work and cheap slave labor forced the colony to accept the system of the area. Augusta was founded as a town in 1735 at the fall line of the Savannah River. This gave a destination in the south of the Piedmont area. By this time, the split between the tidewater areas of Virginia and the Carolinas and the land above the fall line had become evident. It was simply easier to travel north and south by water on the coast and then by the wagon road inland.
Many questions remain unanswered for me at this point. What was the composition of the people who moved — ethnically, economically, social-religious. What were the diverse nature of relations with the various Indian tribes. I would love to try to develop a picture of each community on the eve of the Revolution. It is hard to find any of my ancestors who were listed as Revolutionary soldiers, but I do not even know whether there was any fighting where they were living. And were the Hendersons still Quakers.
But for right now, these are the ideas I am carrying to Virginia. I will be curious to see how being there shapes them.